Arduino Animatronic Hand


Here is a nicely done project from Easton, a 15-year old SparkFun customer. Easton wanted to do something unique for his science fair and set out to create an animatronic hand using a host of servos, some tricky mechanical design, and an Arduino.

The glove itself harkens back to the days of the Nintendo Power Glove and features five flex sensors integrated into a standard glove. These sensors are then connected to an Arduino board with an ATmega328, which monitors the flex and transmit the information via XBee. Another Arduino interprets this information and controls several servos to cause the animatronic "hand" to flex.

So how did Easton do at his science fair? Pretty well, we'd say! He won first place in Air Force Engineering at a regional competition in Durango, Colorado. He also qualified to go to an international science fair in Los Angeles. Nice work, Easton! If you want to read more about his project (or build your own) he does a nice job of documenting the build on his Instructable.


Comments 45 comments

  • I love the Arduino Animatronic Hand, it’s so bad.

  • Good hand jo- err… I mean great job on the hand.

  • Wow…I made something almost identical to this last year. I wonder if my youtube video of my hand provided any inspiration for this project.
    I’m only 16 now when I built my animatronic hand project I was 15
    visit
    www.youtube.com/halo2maniaccc and you will see my projects click on the animatronic hand video and you will see what I made.
    Visit my animatronic hand video direct
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-V6QNvhgt0
    I seem much older in my videos with a deep voice but I’m not kidding I was 15 when I made that video.
    I used a bluesmirf, an arduino, flex sensors, servos, and much more hardware very similar to what this kid did. Also several people have created instructables based off of what I did in my video. If he used any of these tutorials I hope he cited them!

  • Great work Easton! Man, I wish I had access to this sort of electronics when I was his age! This would be a good application for Lilypads.

  • Hii I love this Arduino Animatronic Hand :) but plz i need the commands of arduino program and thnx

  • Hi I love this Arduino Animatronic Hand :) but plz I need the commands of arduino program thnx

  • Sweet project! My only suggestion is that you might consider building your resistor network and headers in the prototyping area on your XBee shields rather than going through all the hassle of etching and drilling custom boards.

  • Pretty cool I wanted to do something like this a while ago. One suggestion would be to configure the Xbee to send out 5 of its analog pins at a certain frequency. Then you can get rid of the first arduino and just parse out the hex data sent from the xbee on the second arduino

  • Very nicely done! I love your voltage divider board. :-D

  • Great job, Easton!! Very ingenious using the flex tubing and fish line to get the action you wanted from the digits. It’s simple but so effective. I hope you win at the fair.
    (and I hope you’re not related to anyone who works for Skynet)

  • I guess I’ll be seeing you (even though I’ll be in Computer Science) at ISEF! Good luck!

  • Sweet! Great job

  • Great project very very nice (mess of wires gives it a slightly… i want to say futuristic look.
    If you want something better a bike or moto-bike chain works great for projects like these.

  • Maybe if you get the electronics small enough the hand could be self-contained. Then you could set it on the floor and make it walk around like Thing from The Adams' Family.

    • I’d like to see that project!
      Or what about those “claw” games with the crane? Instead of a button to close a claw, have the hand hanging from the cable and try to grab prizes with “your own hand”!

  • I wish I could find a way to get recognized like this.

  • It appears the Next generation is showing us up already!
    Very nice work Easton!

  • Bravo Easton!
    So logically going forward…you’ve built the hand. Now you need:
    … a wrist with rotation and flex (in and out)
    … a forearm which attaches the wrist to an elbow
    … an elbow with flex (in and out)
    … an upper arm which attaches the elbow to a shoulder
    … a shoulder with rotation and flex (in and out)
    You’ve solved the engineering for finger flex sensing and corresponding movement, how would you sense rotation? What configuration of servos would duplicate that rotation and flex at each of the joints above?
    On another tack, knowing what you’ve learned about moving a finger, could you extend that knowledge to move a tentacle? In other words, you’ve caused a finger to bend down, could that same finger also be caused to bend down or up or left or right at an operator’s discretion? Consider the relaxed state to be pointing straight out as it is with your constructed finger. What do you think would happen if more than one directional bend command were given in a consecutive sequence?
    Good luck with your further adventures in engineering. Remember, fear is the mind killer–don’t be afraid of asking questions!

    • Hey thank you for the feedback. I am planning on measuring the rotation with either a gyroscope or accelerometer or both. My email address is njkl44@gmail.com we will keep in touch
      Thank You, Easton

    • Another direction to go with it would be to add a camera. As it stands already, the project might be useful for telepresence in a toxic or otherwise dangerous environment.
      Very very cool project, Easton. I like your simple design for fingers.

    • add to list
      … A robot body to take over the world

  • Him + I are both young SFE customers!

  • 4:02 is very scary :(

  • Awesome project! I’ve made a mechanical hand too out of cardboard. I was going to use balloon muscles for control, but that project never made it. This is really well done, and I’m impressed with the interface of the flex sensors and the wireless data communication.
    This is awesome, keep up the good work, and I can’t wait to see updates.

  • Outstanding. Very Nicely done.

  • Awsome!

  • Wow, this kid is going to go FAR.


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